Tuesday, August 27, 2013

sambal ikan bilis: sambal with dried anchovies

Call me a weirdo, but as much as I like quick and easy recipes, there are days when I really like making food the old-fashioned way.

I like pounding chillis and aromatics with my pestle and mortar, and I like the idea of cooking with a charcoal fire. The latter is not allowed where I live (fire hazard) so I can only experiment with the former.

When I saw this recipe for sambal ikan bilis, I wanted to make it immediately.

Since I was making nasi lemak for dinner, this would be a really nice addition to the meal.

In a heated wok, I heated some vegetable oil and fried the ikan bilis. They were placed onto a kitchen towel to drain when they have turned crispy.

Then came the fun part.

To make the sambal, I pounded shallots, garlic, dried chillis and belacan (prawn paste).

Once done, in a heated wok, I added a little vegetable oil. Into this, I added the spice paste and fried it until it was fragrant.

Then I added the sliced onions and fried for a minute or so before adding the ikan bilis. This was stirred to mix, before the tamarind juice and sugar were added. I turned the heat down to low and cooked the ikan bilis until the gravy had thickened.

I served my nasi lemak with grilled turmeric and paprika chicken wings, and long beans fried with hae bee hiam. I also boiled some eggs and halved them, fried some peanuts and sliced some cucumber to go with everything.

It was a marathon cooking session, but I enjoyed every minute of it. :)

Adapted from recipe by raramalaysia

1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
1 cup ikan bilis (dried anchovies)
1 clove garlic
10 dried chillis, deseeded and rehydrated
1 tsp belacan (prawn paste)
1 tbs sugar
tamarind juice made from tamarind pulp (about the size of a ping pong ball), mixed with 1 cup water for about 15 minutes, stirring often, and drained.

1. Rinse the dried anchovies and drain the water. Fry the anchovies until they turn light brown and set aside to drain on kitchen towels.
2. Remove seeds from dry chillis and soak in water for about 15 minutes to rehydrate them. Drain.
3. Pound the prawn paste together with shallots, garlic, and deseeded dried chilies with a mortar and pestle. You can also grind them with a food processor.
4. Slice the red onion thinly.
5. Soak the tamarind pulp in water for 15 minutes. Squeeze the tamarind constantly to extract the flavor into the water. Drain the pulp and save the tamarind juice.
6. Heat some oil in a pan and fry the spice paste until fragrant.
7. Add the onion rings and fry for a minute or so.
8. Add the ikan bilis and stir well.
9. Add tamarind juice and sugar.
10. Simmer on low heat until the gravy thickens.

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